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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

The New York Times story out tonight is a reminder of the grave danger the United States is in as long as President Trump remains in the Oval Office. President Trump asked his White House Counsel, Don McGahn, to prosecute Hillary Clinton and James Comey. McGahn, who is quite likely the ultimate source of this story, put Trump off. What is probably obvious but deserves to be said is that it’s pretty clear Trump had no theory – or theory with any basis – for what crimes Clinton and Comey should be indicted for. He just wanted the state to attack them.

But with all the swirl of information dumped in our laps this afternoon we can discern a confluence and pattern.

Let’s discuss it.

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Before Matt Whitaker was installed as Jeff Sessions chief of staff and minder at the Department of Justice he was making more than $900,000 as the “director” of a pro-Trump dark money group called FACT.

The trend of ridiculously bad appointed Southern senate incumbents continues and is entertaining in a hideous kind of way. Cindy Hyde-Smith is no Roy Moore. But coming off a feel good comment about lynching and ‘jokes’ about voter suppression she’s making a real run at it. She has now apparently demanded that there be no audience and no press at tonight’s sole debate in the Mississippi senate run off. It’s Mississippi, an extremely conservative state with extremely racialized voting. She’s definitely the favorite. But it does seem to be an actual race, with Roll Call just today moving it from Sold Republican to Likely Republican.

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Democrats want to investigate everything. They’re right to. Publications like Politico are setting up strawman dichotomies between feral Democrats who want to attack Trump on every front and ‘moderates’ who don’t want to alienate voters. It’s best to ignore all of this. As I’ve argued before, most of the history and conventional wisdom about ‘over-reach’ is based on a basic inability to distinguish between real oversight and investigations and conspiracy theories and frivolous nonsense. The public gets impatient with the latter, though it’s important to recognize that it’s only a few times cost Republicans much at the ballot box.

But there is a need for focus, and it’s only indirectly related to politics and optics.

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A few TPM Readers were at Seth Moulton’s townhall last night in Amesbury, Massachusetts. TPM Reader MK went in unhappy with Moulton’s antics and wasn’t impressed with what he saw …

He was indeed a bit of a douchebag during the town hall.

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As Amy Walter points out here, there are a number of new members in very competitive districts who pledged – in varying degrees – not to support Pelosi. There are good reasons to believe that provided a margin of victory, though obviously there’s no real way to know. Very, very few of them have signed this letter. The vast majority of the signers are from very safe districts. So the upshot here is that this likely forces freshmen Dems who will have very hard reelection races in two years to start their term with a tough vote which could get them tossed in two years.

The FBI officially considers the right-wing paramiliary Proud Boys an “extremist group with ties to white nationalism” and has since at least August.

The anti-Pelosi faction has released its list of 16 incumbents or apparent midterm winners who say they will not vote for Pelosi in the floor vote for Speaker. That is at least a few fewer than expected. Marcia Fudge, who has half-suggested she’d challenge Pelosi, apparently pulled her name from the list. So on a few fronts it seems like the effort is flagging.

But it remains important to understand what’s happening here.

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